Boosting Your Sobriety at the Gym

When I entered treatment for drug addiction, I was grossly overweight. I weighed in at 286 pounds, over 100 pounds heavier than my current weight of 178 pounds. On top of my addiction to drugs and alcohol, I was a compulsive overeater and food addict. I wrote about my food addiction a couple of years ago in another article entitled The Most Dangerous Drug.

Seven months into my first year of sobriety I was sick of myself and my persisting weight problem. I had read a biography about a newly minted alcoholic who spent hours walking the streets of Chicago and it sparked the idea I should walk too.

I was working in downtown Washington, D.C. and parking at Metro Station near the Maryland border. Washington, D.C. is literally a giant hill that begins at the Potomac River and runs upward for 5 miles. You could coast on a bicycle from my parked car to my work without touching the pedals.

One day after leaving work I decided to keep walking instead of getting on the Metro. I figured I would catch the train at the next station, but I didn't do that. In fact, I walked the entire four miles uphill to my parked car.

When I arrived at my car an hour and forty minutes later, I was feeling good about myself. The acute feelings of depression and self-loathing seem to have been temporarily silenced. The next day I walked again. Shortly this became an everyday habit. I started looking forward to my daily walks, besides I didn’t know what to do with the two-hours between leaving work and dinner time. My new routine nicely filled that void.

The after-work walks began what has become a long-term commitment to working out and physical fitness.  Over the years my fitness program has morphed to accomplish higher and more strenuous goals. The benefit of marrying physical fitness with sobriety was an obvious combination. Over the years I imagined the concept of having meetings intertwined with working out.

A couple of years ago I read about a young woman leading sober fitness classes in Central Florida and was excited about her work with recovering addicts. I reached out through her website to learn more, though I never received a response.   

Start with a Healthy Lifestyle in South Florida

After relocating to South Florida in 2018, I found out about these guys @crossfithype running a free program @temperancetraining in Boca Raton. I picked up their brochure at a celebrity tennis event in Delray Beach. The brochure gathered dust for two months until I worked up enough courage to attend my first class at 9:00 am on a Sunday morning.

CrossFit Hype is a competitive gym and the Sunday morning regulars are in excellent shape, not to mention twenty-years younger than me. I am always a little intimidated walking into CrossFit Hype, but extremely grateful for finishing the workout an hour later. The time flies by and the sense of accomplishment is in itself a real high.

Each class starts with stretching exercises before we are broken up into groups of three. I try to spot potential teammates who aren’t right off the cover of Men’s Health in hopes of giving myself a fighting chance of keeping up. Joking aside, nobody has ever left me behind or told me to sit out while they do the heavy lifting, Temperance Training is about teamwork and everybody is encouraging and patient. The atmosphere and attitude in the gym are about maximizing your potential and fellowship. 

The classes run by Tim Mustion and Anthony Fazio are free and open to anyone at any stage of recovery. What these guys are doing for our community is incredible and I applaud them for it. Temperance Training is also offered Monday - Friday, 1:00 to 2:00 pm. This is a great program and I highly recommend it.

A Healthy Step to Recovery

Working out has been a huge part of my recovery, but not in lieu of my working the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous. I didn’t get sober from going to the gym, but it does help maximize feeling truly fulfilled in recovery. It’s hard for me to imagine being free of drugs and alcohol, but still getting jacked-up on Starbucks and leftover Halloween candy as a way of dealing with my feelings.

Today there are few problems I have that an hour in the gym, followed by a meeting can’t fix. If you don't have a fitness routine, start by walking and build it from there. It doesn’t matter what exercise you initially choose, just start doing something. You’ll be glad you did.

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South Florida Intervention offers exclusive solutions for families struggling with the devastating effects of addiction. Marc Kantor is a professional interventionist and the founder of South Florida Intervention, based in Boca Raton, FL. If someone you know is struggling with addiction, we can help. For additional information please e-mail us at marc@southfloridaintervention.com.